Blog

February 06, 2018

Project Profile: Reclaimed Doug Fir Stair Treads

By KC Eisenberg

When local developer Green Canopy came to us in search of some show-stopping wood for a staircase, we knew just what to provide: Custom reclaimed Douglas fir timbers salvaged from a nearby deconstruction project.

We were able to provide treads and matching accents, including the railing, stringers, and coordinating shelving, in just the dimensions they needed, hewn out of massive reclaimed beams.

We then sanded the timbers smooth, giving them a beautiful look for this graceful new home. 

January 04, 2018

Celebrating 10 Years

By KC Eisenberg

The arrival of 2018 means that Sustainable Northwest Wood has been in business for 10 years! We first opened our doors back in 2008, just as the Great Recession was kicking into gear. Many doubted that a sustainable lumber yard could make it, especially with the economic contraction at that time, but we pressed on, determined to do our best to support small sawmills and develop a market for local wood.

And in the years since, we've proudly delivered nearly $2 million directly to the small mills on the East Side that cut and produce our juniper lumber.

We've sent nearly $2 million more to small, family-owned hardwood and cedar mills in the Willamette and Umpqua Valleys.

And we've sold nearly $5 million worth of FSC certified lumber and plywood, at a time when other lumberyards have been dropping their certifications and saying there's no market for FSC wood. 

Thanks for your role in helping us prove this idea, that a lumber business can both do good and do well. It is because of you, our dedicated customer, that sustainable lumber is a thriving and growing segment of the lumber market in the Pacific Northwest.

Here's to another 10 years of market transformation!
January 04, 2018

FSC Certification means Climate Smart Forestry

By KC Eisenberg

There are many strong reasons to support FSC forestry and buy wood products that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. Our friends at Ecotrust recently completed a study that found yet another great reason: FSC certified forests can store more carbon while producing more timber than the current industrial norm. 

The study, called Climate Smart Forestry in the Pacific Northwest, simulated four scenarios of Douglas fir forest management over 100 years using the Forest Vegetation Simulator growth-and-yield model. Forests managed according to the guidelines of the Forest Stewarship Council (FSC) were looked at, as were forests managed according to the requirements of the Oregon and Washington Forests Practices Acts (FPA). The study simulated conditions in a selection of forested properties across the Pacific Northwest region, 22 of which were FSC Certified and 45 additional, non-certified properties that were randomly selected, to provide a large sample for comparing the outcomes. 

The study found that the FSC Certified properties always stored more carbon than the non-certified properties. FSC usually stored 25 to 60% more carbon than properties managed according to the rules of the FPS, with some offering as much as 80% more carbon storage.

Additionally, the longer rotations that are typical for FSC properties often produced more timber than the FPA property yields. Long FSC rotations were competitive with, and often had higher yields than, the short-rotation FPA scenarios, particularly on the properties studied in Washington.

Ecotrust defines Climate Smart Forestry as having longer rotations; protecting water quality and aquatic habitats with effective buffers around streams and wetlands; tightly restricting the use of chemicals and prohitibiting specific, particularly hazardous chemicals; and safeguarding High Conservation Value forests, i.e., old growth. 

By adopting policies and incentives that reward Climate Smart Forestry, states could offer a win-win for Pacific Northwest forests: Increased carbon storage combined with a high timber output. 

January 04, 2018

Northwest Solid Wood Surfaces earn DECLARE label

By KC Eisenberg

By selecting the DECLARE product transparency label for our solid surface countertops, Sustainable Northwest Wood has become the first solid wood surface manufacturer to take this important step toward disclosing the ingredients used in wood adhesives. DECLARE is a transparency platform and product database developed and maintained by the International Living Future Institute that is changing the materials marketplace by making public the ingredients used within products. 

Our Northwest Solid Wood Surfaces are one of just a few products lines we are currently offering that aren't made of solid, 100% natural wood. In addition to the wood, which makes up more than 98% of them, these solid surfaces include adhesives that hold the individual staves of wood together. By declaring the adhesives in these products, we are taking a step toward informing our customers about the ingredients that make up these adhesives.

At this time, due to the proprietary nature of our supplier's formulas, we are not able to list with certainty all of the ingredients that make up these adhesives (the supplier isn't even able to disclose this information, simply because they don't know). This unfortunately is an industry-wide problem, and at this time there are no suitable alternative adhesives that can be used. But the DECLARE label is a step in the right direction, and has opened up a frank conversation with our supplier about their ingredients. 

By completing the DECLARE process, our solid wood surfaces have become compliant with Living Building Challenge projects.

Today, we can’t say that our solid wood surface countertops are Red List Free, but we see the DECLARE label as a step in the right direction. We will continue to advocate for the use of wood adhesives that can offer 100% transparency, and as soon as we and our suppliers are able to find an effective, high-quality Red List Ready adhesive that we can use for these tops, we look forward to employing it.

December 01, 2017

FSC Leadership Awards 2017: Congrats to Green Hammer and McLennan Design!

By KC Eisenberg

Congratulations to Green Hammer and McLennan Design for being among the winners of the 2017 FSC Leadership Awards

Green Hammer won an award for their Cowhorn Winery project, a biodynamic winery and tasting room in Southern Oregon's Applegate Valley. McLennan Design won for Heron Hall, a residence on Washington's Bainbridge Island.

Both of these Living Building Challenge projects are filled with local and FSC Certified woods, as required by the LBC standard. Sustainable Northwest Wood was honored to provide the framing lumber, plywood, Western Red Cedar, and other special items used in these projects.

Click here to read more about the wood that went into the Cowhorn Winery project, and check out Green Hammer's profile of the Cowhorn Winery here.

Click here to read more about the wood that went into Heron Hall. And visit the Heron Hall website here to learn more about this ground-breaking residential project.

December 01, 2017

Juniper road trip: Our autumn tour of juniper mills

By KC Eisenberg



Earlier this fall, we took some time to travel around Eastern Oregon and visit the mills that are cutting juniper for us. It was an opportunity for usto meet some folks who are new to the scene, and to keep our finger on the pulse of the mills as they work to produce ever more juniper for growing markets up and down the West Coast.

First, we visited with Caleb Morris, who runs the juniper milling operation for the Ritter Land Management Team. A collaborative group of landowners near the "place" of Ritter (it's not technically a town, they take care to explain to visitors, but a community nonetheless) is working toward juniper remediation by culling logs from overgrown private ranchlands. They recently qualified for a grant through the Western Juniper Industry Fund to invest in a sawmill, and plan to turn the juniper into useful lumber to help offset the costs of the landscape restoration efforts.

Next we ventured to John Day to see the new milling operation at Malheur Lumber, a sawmill that is owned by the larger timber company Ochoco Lumber. Ochoco is a staple in Eastern Oregon and has been in operation since the 1930's, cutting Ponderosa pine and other softwoods harvested from the bountiful forests nearby.

As the forests and rangelands changed over the decades, with juniper encroaching on Ponderosa territory and the composition of the woods changing, Ochoco saw an opportunity in juniper, and recently, through the Western Juniper Industry Fund, acquired special milling equipment to cut it. We recently brought in 2x10 and 2x12 juniper from this mill and anticipate introducing more of this lumber to our customers in 2018.

After John Day, we stopped in the hamlet of Dayville, along the scenic banks of the South Fork of the John Day River, to talk with two small mills there, South Fork Gardens and South Fork Mill.

And finally, we visited In The Sticks Sawmill in Fossil, which is owned by Kendall Derby. We have worked with Kendall from the start of our work with juniper and have enjoyed watching his business blossom as the market for juniper has grown. Kendall, too, recently acquired more milling equipment and is rapidly producing high-quality, beautiful juniper lumber.  

The upshot of this uplifting tour is that we expect to be able to provide growing markets with a stable and steady supply of juniper lumber in the coming months.
 

November 02, 2017

Myrtlewood Enjoys a Moment

By KC Eisenberg

Myrtlewood is enjoying a much-deserved moment in the spolight. Which is great, because this unique Oregon species has a look like no other.

A stalwart feature of souvenir shops and 1970's memorabilia, myrtlewood has for decades been known as "the Oregon wood." But despite its popularity for use as Christmas tree ornaments, puzzles, carved bowls, and other trinkets, it is only beginning to be known as a beautiful and unique choice for interior furnishings and flooring. It provides a warmth and silkiness that no other species can. Some special pieces of the wood are so lustrous that they appear nearly three-dimensional, like you can see down into the grain. 

We're delighted that local craftspeople have discovered this special wood and are using it for distinctive, memorable installations around town. Here are some of our favorites.

Breakside Brews' new Slabtown location
This brewpub uses myrtlewood for much of its dining room casework and seating. Paired with metal, black vinyl, and raw concrete, the look is fresh and modern, but still warm and inviting. The golden tones of the wood and the thoughtful details of the installation, by Mallet PDX, invite closer inspection.


Stumptown Reclaimed's myrtlewood dining tables
Stumptown Reclaimed specializes in furniture made from unique local woods. Not all is reclaimed; a good portion of what they make uses reclaimed fir, but they also use wood from salvage sources, including our myrtlewood. We love the rustic-meets-modern look of these special tables.

October 12, 2017

End-of-Season Clearance Sale

By KC Eisenberg

It's that time of the year again! We're cleaning out our warehouse and we've got some great savings to pass on to you.

This year we're partnering with Epilogue Urban Lumber and Balanced Energy Solutions to offer even more sustainable lumber and green building goodies!


One day only: Saturday, October 21 from 9am to 3pm at Sustainable Northwest Wood


Many items including:
  • Epilogue live-edge slabs 25 to 50% OFF
  • Last season's 2x6 and 2x8 economy-grade juniper lumber 50% OFF
  • Campground Blue Pine live-edge slabs 50% OFF (sale price $3.00 per board foot)
  • Hardwood lumber staves (1” x 2”) in walnut, maple, and blue pine ALL $.25/LF
  • FSC Douglas Fir 4x and 6x beams (seconds) 50% OFF
October 12, 2017

Forests need fires to flourish

By KC Eisenberg


The photos of the burns are shocking, and it’s impossible not to react emotionally: It looks like actual hell to see the charred remains of our favorite hiking trails, to see the blackened, ghostly sticks that were just recently lush green trees.

But we must remember that, to varying degrees, our Northwest forests evolved to burn. These fires, as shocking as they are to our eyes and hearts, are an essential component of forest health in the Pacific Northwest. Many species of trees and animals, including Sequoias, lodgepole and jack pines, and Melanophila beetles, require periodic fires to reproduce. The fleeting burnt landscape is home to dozens of unique species that can only survive in a recent burn. Pollinators thrive in the springtime blooms of sunny open areas. Soils are nourished as burnt wood decays. And then, ever so quickly, the forest begins to regrow.

Our forests need fires – the right kind of fires – to flourish.

Evidence shows that the best actions we can take in modern Western forests are an increasing tolerance for burns coupled with strategically-placed restoration projects that reduce fuel loads, thin overcrowded stands of young trees, and work to restore forests rich with trees of diverse ages and species. In areas that have historically been heavily impacted by logging, this work takes on extra urgency, as these areas are often the most prone to uncharacteristic fires.

Human disruption to the natural, healthy fire cycle is, we’re learning, often far more damaging than the fires themselves. When we enact policies to stomp out fires as soon as they start, we’re setting up forests for larger, more damaging burns down the road. If we go in haphazardly after a burn to “salvage” the standing dead, our heavy equipment compacts the soil and removes legacy trees that provide shade and important habitat.

And when we clear-cut vast acreage only to replant in dense, impenetrable monocrops, as we have done across millions of acres of the forested West, we’re asking for sick, stressed, dried-out and defenseless trees – in short, we’re asking for catastrophe.

Commercial logging projects are often not designed with restoration in mind, but there are increasing examples of successful projects that restore forests while also providing logs to local mills, and logging jobs to local economies. We’re proud to source wood from Malheur Lumber Company that is procured through the Blue Mountain Forest Partners, and we hope that in the near future, more of this type of lumber is available.

We also hope that, rather than using shock-and-awe photos and dire news reports as an excuse to open up new areas to extractive logging, our elected officials use this opportunity to boost funding for evidence-based, collaborative restoration projects that are designed to restore forest health and biodiversity while also supporting the growth of local economies.
September 28, 2017

New larger sizes of butcher block slabs now in stock!

By KC Eisenberg

We're adding a larger size to our selection of in-stock, ready-to-go butcher block slabs: 1 1/2" x 40" x lengths of 4' through 8'.

This larger size is a quick and economical solution for island tops, tables, and other areas that need more coverage. They're in the side-grain style, unfinished, with square edges. They're all made of solid, kiln-dried, locally grown wood.

We're still offering the standard size of 1 1/2" x 26 1/2" x lengths of 4', through 10'. And we can make many custom sizes and styles as well!